With so many pieces published each week at Brookings, we wanted to take a moment and highlight some of what’s been happening around our halls in recent days on issues related to the Middle East.
In honor of International Women’s Day, the Education + Development blog at Brookings published two thought-provoking pieces by Maysa Jalbout, a nonresident fellow at the Center for Universal Education in the Global Economy and Development program at Brookings. The first piece examines the breakdown of boys and girls’ attendance in primary and secondary schools in the Middle East and North Africa region, and Jalbout argues that the “current efforts fall short for far too many girls and young women.” In the second blog post, Jahout looks at the rates of employment for educated women in the MENA region, and writes that, “much greater efforts and cooperation between the private sector and government are needed to replicate and scale up initiatives that tap the potential of working women.”
An interesting round-robin debate erupted on our sister blog, Order from Chaos, about U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Ambassador Martin Indyk, who has served as director of the Foreign Policy program and was just named Brookings Executive Vice President, outlined the choices the United States faces in the Middle East, and made the case for doubling down on our relationships with our longstanding regional allies. Michael E. O’Hanlon, director of Research for the Foreign Policy Program, followed by advocating the incorporation of American values into U.S. policy toward the region. Tamara Cofman Wittes, director of the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, also published a counter-argument to Indyk, making the case that the only logical U.S. approach in the Middle East is a hedging strategy. In the spirit of friendly debate, Indyk responded to both of their pieces here.
Bruce Riedel, director of the Intelligence Project at Brookings, wrote an informative piece in Al Monitor about how Saudi Arabia is quietly preparing for a nuclear agreement with Iran.
The U.S. Relations with the Islamic World Project just released two fascinating papers on the Islamic State (ISIS). The paper— by Nonresident Senior Fellow J.M. Berger and Jonathon Morgan, a senior developer at Ushahidi— examines the population of ISIS supporters on Twitter, and he also wrote a blog post for Order from Chaos explaining the highlights from his findings. Berger’s paper was launched on Wednesday alongside an analysis paper by Cole Bunzel, a ph.d. candidate at Princeton University, From Paper State to Caliphate: The Ideology of the Islamic State, which argues that eliminating ISIS leaders such as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi would significantly weaken the group. Click here to watch the launch event for these papers.
Finally, Israelis head to the polls next week. We trust you’ve been reading the excellent coverage by Natan Sachs, fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, and Lauren Mellinger, senior research assistant, in our Israeli Elections Series, but hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen to Sachs on Lawfare’s podcast, discussing Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress last week in Washington.